Jim Hendler, who has a long pedigree of Semantic Web activities, has posted a draft of an upcoming editorial piece about the future of academic publishing. Some of the interesting points:

  • Comparing the success of sites like Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube, etc., against many similar endeavors with the same technology but nothing like the same success, shows that building community is a key component of sharing knowledge (which, ultimately, is what the academic process is supposed to accomplish).
  • Despite many younger academics wanting the pursue a more “open” model of scholarship (and being familiar with the tools), the incentives are still strongly tilted toward traditional publication methods
  • Change will likely come from more established researchers (whose careers are presumably less fragile) working to create innovation

Scientific innovation has substantially outpaced traditional academic publishing approaches for some time now (long before blogs and wikis made the tension even more obvious), and (like other kinds of publication) seems long overdue for some changes.